The end of an era
By Paul Armstrong
Ashton United got the win they needed to clinch runners-up spot and home advantage in the play-offs ...
... with Reds’ ending their thirty first campaign of Northern Premier League football in mid-table.
The visitors seemed to be troubled by nervous tension for much of the game but, gradually, got on top and grabbed a late winner.
Reds had gone in front, were pegged back immediately but couldn’t hang on for the draw their efforts probably deserved.
A fine goal from Scott Allison, his 23rd of the season, had opened the scoring for the hosts after twenty four minutes. He started and finished the move with a clever dribble and good retention of the ball, exchanged a neat one-two with Max Brown before finishing with aplomb.
It seemed to give the Robins a wake-up call because the response was instant with an equaliser within ninety seconds. Liam Tomsett delivered a teasing ball towards the far post which John Pritchard managed to head home from close range.
Pritchard almost gave United the lead before half time but his low shot was turned onto the post and away by a smart Aaran Taylor save.
Reds looked the more likely to get the third goal of the afternoon as the impressive Ashton support were checking mobiles for results elsewhere.
Max Brown had a goal-bound effort blocked then, with a clever shot on the turn, sent the ball over the bar. Dav Symington lined up a free kick from twenty five yards but that also failed to hit the target.
As Reds understandably tired, Ashton began to dominate as they pushed for the all important winner.
They missed some decent chances and Dean Smalley thumped a header against the bar. Time was against them.
But credit to Jody Banim’s side who kept going to the end. A free kick in their favour provided one last chance and Sam Sheridan’s superb delivery wasn’t defended properly, enabling Cumbrian born Tomsett to guide home the winner in front of the jubilant, but somewhat relieved, away support.
Whilst the visitors were celebrating their last gasp win, the Borough Park faithful were saying a fond farewell to Anthony Wright who announced his retirement prior to the game. Although injured, he came on to make a cameo appearance near the end then acknowledged the plaudits from the terraces.
A great servant to the club, he will be missed.
Workington Taylor, Symington, Rowntree (Harker, 81), Douglas, Hetherington, Mellen, Brown, Holt, Allison, Mossop, Holliday (Wright, 82). Substitute – Andrews (not used).
Ashton United Ollerenshaw, Dominic Smalley, Baines, Granite (Chadwick, 79), Chalmers, Sheridan, Platt, Tomsett, Dyche (Evangelinos, 66), Mooney (Dean Smalley, 46), Pritchard. Substitutes – Roberts, Makhosini (not used).
Referee Helen Conley, Bishop Auckland